The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge (UEC) is a statewide, student business competition open to all college students from participating colleges and universities in Utah. The competition focuses on development of a compelling student business and offers $100,000 of cash and in-kind prizes. This competition is made possible by generous support from sponsors, including Zions Bank, mentors, judges, and staff members from colleges and universities across the state.
The business model is split into three components in the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge: (1) a business-model submission, (2) a video submission, and (3) the final live presentation and interviews during the UEC final event. The top 20 teams will be selected by participating schools. Each school will review all relevant applications and nominate up to two student teams to participate in rounds 2 and 3 of the UEC.
The UEC provides resources to aid students in the creation and implementation of their business. Students gain valuable skills and experience to help them transition to the competitive world of entrepreneurship. Dozens of past teams from the competition have successfully moved forward and become successful businesses.
- Application Opens: Sept. 18, 2023
- Online Information Sessions: Oct. 16, 2023, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Nov. 20, 2023, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Dec. 18, 2023, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Jan. 8, 2024, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Feb. 12, 2024, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
- Application Deadline: Feb. 21, at 11:59 p.m.
- Online Judging (U. of Utah): Feb. 23-March 1, 2024
- Top 20 Announced: March 4, 2024
- Top 20 Video Submission Deadline: March 6, 2024, 11:59 p.m.
- Public Top 20 Video Voting: March 7, 2024, noon to March 22, 2024, 11:59 p.m.
- Competition Final Event: March 23, 2024
Because the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is a collegiate student competition, the student must take the lead in the submission and must play a major role in formulating the business. The UEC is a student business competition and is based on the work of students. The UEC does not award ventures that are not formed and managed by students.
Competing teams must be composed of at least one Utah college or university student and meet all of the following criteria*:
- The team must be organized and directed by a student from a college or university in the state of Utah.
- The founding student must be an active student during both semesters of the competition year.
- The founding student must be registered for a minimum of nine (9) credit hours during the semester they are participating. The credit hours must be taken as a matriculated, admitted, and degree-seeking student.
- The student team members must be involved in all aspects of the UEC competition.
- The team must not have been a top-8 finalist in past Utah Entrepreneur Challenge competitions from previous years. (This eligibility requirement refers exclusively to the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge and does not include any other events hosted by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.)
- There are no restrictions regarding other team members; however, we suggest building a balanced team with a strong combination of finance, marketing, engineering and technology skills.
- For existing companies:
- If the company has been registered in any state longer than 24 months as of Sept. 1, 2023, a brief history of the company is required in the application.
- The cumulative revenue, debt, grant or third-party financing for the company has not exceeded $100,000 prior to Sept. 1, 2023.
- The company cannot be a franchise.
An individual team may provide more than one entry; however, each business model must be registered separately.
NOTE: Rules and exceptions are up to the discretion of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and Utah Entrepreneur Challenge representatives. Submission content must be appropriate for the student, judge, sponsor, and volunteer audience. Inappropriate content will result in disqualification. Direct any questions about eligibility to the UEC team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Round 1: Business Model
Round 1 is open to all participants that meet eligibility requirements. To compete, teams must register online and submit their business model PDF at lassonde.utah.edu/uec by the submission deadline (see timeline for date). Be prepared to list the team’s primary contact name, phone number, email address, school and student ID number, as well as the names of other team members. There is no registration fee.
Deadlines are strictly enforced. We do, however, understand there can be technical issues associated with submitting through the competition software. If you have any issues with your submission, contact us at email@example.com. Ten of the top 20 teams will automatically qualify based on winning their school’s endorsement. If the winner cannot participate, the school’s program administrator can nominate an alternate team. The remaining teams will be selected based on the merit of their business model submission through the online judging process. The top 20 will be announced online (see timeline for date). The top 20 teams will be invited to participate in rounds 2 and 3 of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge and will receive a cash participation prize for completing rounds 2 and 3.
Business Model Guidelines & Requirements
The business model is a brief document that outlines the fundamental problem and solutions your business is addressing. The purpose of the document is to convince the reader that the business is viable and could operate in the real world. It includes the most interesting and important aspects of the business.
The business model should be no longer than 6 pages (not including the cover sheet). The document must have 1-inch margins and a 12-point font size. All pages, except the cover page, should be numbered. Unusually condensed or narrow type is not permitted. Failure to meet these guidelines may lead to disqualification.
The business model should briefly describe:
- Company overview: Include the most important points about your business idea — your history, product or service, mission statement and legal structure if applicable.
- Product or service: Describe product or service for sale, stage of development, market differentiation and intellectual property if applicable.
- Market: Describe the market where you aim to sell your product or service. Include target market, competitors in the market and an analysis of your competitive advantage.
- Sales strategy: Explain how you will go about selling your product or service while increasing profits. Include marketing strategy, distribution channels, key partners and relationships.
- Revenue model: Describe how your business generates revenue. Include the cost to produce, cost to sell, customer acquisition strategy and market price for the product or service.
- Team: Describe who is currently on your team, their role, education and experience. Detail current and future personal needs.
The business model will be submitted on the competition website, lassonde.utah.edu/uec. To be eligible for the competition, a PDF version of the business model must be submitted online by deadline (see timeline for date).
Complete business models are reviewed by respective participating colleges and universities. Each college or university will determine their own process to nominate two teams to Round 2 and Round 3 of the competition. Please see list below for participating schools and contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help connecting.
2023-24 Participating Universities
- Brigham Young University
- Ensign College
- Neumont College of Computer Science
- Utah Tech University
- Salt Lake Community College
- Snow College
- Southern Utah University
- University of Utah
- Utah State University
- Utah Valley University
- Weber State University
- Western Governors University
- Westminster College
Round 2: Video Submission (Top 20 Only)
The top 20 finalists must create a 2-minute video based on their business model. The video MP4 file must be submitted via email to email@example.com and uploaded to a provided location by the deadline (see timeline for date). Video submission instructions will be provided. Failure to provide these materials may lead to disqualification for several prizes.
Video Submission Guidelines & Requirements
Videos will give an opportunity to set you and your idea apart. The 2-minute videos should be persuasive and help judges understand your idea and explain your business model. Besides the time constraint, there are no set criteria for your video. Teams should decide what ideas they feel are most applicable for judges to know.
You could use your video to:
- Give a personal “elevator pitch” for your idea
- Show your extreme passion for your idea
- Let your creativity, your personality, and/or the “personality” of your idea shine through
- Clearly demonstrate and explain the product or service
Follow these simple guidelines when creating your video:
- Videos MUST be no longer than 2 minutes in length. Videos longer than 2 minutes may not be judged.
- Keep it professional. No inappropriate sounds, language or images. Videos containing content deemed inappropriate by the UEC will result in disqualification
Public Voting on Videos and Cash Award
Videos for the top 20 finalists will be posted on the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge website and open to public voting (see timeline for dates). The video with the most votes will be presented with the People’s Choice Award. Follow the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute on social media for updates on the public voting.
Round 3: Final Presentation (Top 20 Only)
Each of the top 20 teams will be invited to the final UEC event (see timeline for date and times). Here teams will present to judges and receive awards. Final judging will take place during the final event. The winner of the $20,000 grand prize and winners of other prizes will be announced during the evening of the final event.
Final Presentation Guidelines & Requirements
Teams will be asked to give a presentation and answer questions from a panel of judges regarding their presentation and business model. Business formal dress is suggested.
The final presentation will take place at the UEC Final Event (see timeline for date and times).
Presentations should have impact and be brief. Most teams will not be able to present all of the aspects of their business during the allotted time. The presentation should reinforce and augment the business model submitted by the team in Round 1. Teams using a presentation document will be required to submit all of their presentation files by the deadline (see timeline for date).
*IMPORTANT NOTE: The ONLY presentation file type allowed is PDF. Please convert all other file types to PDF.
Utah Entrepreneur Challenge Final Event
The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge will be held in person at the University of Utah. At the final event, contestants will participate in judging sessions and compete for the awards announced by the end of the day. This is an invitation-only event.
The judging panel may consist of venture capitalists, lawyers, bankers, accountants, entrepreneurs and other successful and knowledgeable business leaders. Judges will not be affiliated with, or involved in, the preparation or funding of any participating team. The decision of the judging panel will be final and will not be subject to appeal. The overall selection of winners is based on the viability and likely success of the business.
The first round of judging is determined independently at each college or university. Each college or university are given their applications to select their nominations for rounds 2 and 3 of judging.
- Round 1 results will be announced on UEC website and via email (see timeline for date).
- Round 2 and 3 results will be announced at the UEC Final Event and posted on the UEC website.
The Judging Criteria
The judges for Round 2 and 3 will look at the following criteria:
- Is the company student-driven?
- Was the presentation impactful?
- Does the idea show innovation and creativity?
- Has the team adequately explained the main points of the business model?:
- Company overview
- Product or service
- Sales strategy
- Revenue model
$100,000 of cash and in-kind prizes will be awarded amongst the contestants. Funds received from the UEC should be used for to advance the business idea.
A variety of other cash and in-kind prizes — including accounting, legal, and consulting, staffing and information technology services — will be awarded to selected teams for additional preparation of their business plans and initial business development. These services are distributed solely at the discretion of and are subject to the conditions set forth by the donor, and may be subject to change from year-to-year.
Prizes exceeding $10,000 must be awarded to a legally formed company, not an individual.
Tax & Financial Aid Implications
Payment for winning a competition or being a top performer is not a scholarship or fellowship; instead, it is a prize or award and is given without stipulation as to how it must be used. Prizes of this nature may be taxable to the recipient, but are not considered wages even if the student is employed by the university. If certain dollar thresholds are satisfied, the university will report the prize or award to the IRS and the student on IRS Form 1099-Misc, Miscellaneous Income, or on IRS Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s US Source Income Subject to Withholding. Tax Services will work with the student to make appropriate tax withholdings and may require the student to complete a W-9 Form.
Tax Implications for International Students
International students are advised to meet with Tax Services to determine their tax status for income and or scholarship awards: fbs.admin.utah.edu/tax-services/appointment-with-tax-specialist/. A tax specialist can help you fill out the applicable form(s) so you are taxed appropriately, if at all. The base requirements to be eligible for any tax treaties are: F-1 visa holders (international students attending an academic program or English language program at a US college or university) and have a social security number or taxpayer identification number. If a tax treaty is in place, Tax Services will have the student complete U.S. Form 8233, Exemption from Withholding on Compensation for Independent Personal Services of a nonresident alien individual. The tax implications are different for J-1 visa holders (exchange visitor program); otherwise, you may need to complete the IRS Form 1042-S: irs.gov/uac/About-Form-1042S. Once again, please meet with a tax specialist and they will help you determine which form applies to your visa status.
Financial Aid Implications for Students
In addition, payments made by the university to students must also be considered for financial aid implications, as they comprise financial assistance given by the university to the student (NASFAA Monograph 24, Appendix D). For University of Utah students, the Lassonde Institute will report your prize as a miscellaneous award in the central scholarship system. The miscellaneous award is a placeholder for financial aid purposes only, not a means for disbursement. You should also contact the Financial Aid Office by either email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling 801-581-6211, and speak with a financial aid counselor to understand the implications that accepting this award may have on your financial aid.
The University of Utah may award a prize to a student not currently attending the University of Utah. In this case, it is the student’s responsibility to report the receipt of the prize to their institution, as the Department of Education considers this to be an outside resource, and must be counted as financial assistance. We encourage students to speak with a Financial Aid counselor at their institution if they have any questions or concerns regarding the acceptance of this prize or award. Each participant must indicate that they have read and understand this information on the Award Distribution Form.
Part II Certification of Citizenship Found on W9 (see below)
This MUST be reviewed prior to signing. If you are unable to certify after review please contact Alicia Vess at email@example.com. Your award will be distributed differently if you cannot certify.
As a competitor, you are responsible to protect any information concerning your business that you share with advisors, team members and fellow participants of the competition. The Lassonde Institute takes no responsibility for unwanted disclosure in these instances. Contestants should be careful about disclosing information concerning proprietary concepts. Competitors concerned about the protection of intellectual property may contact the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute Company Launch program (lassonde.utah.edu/launch) or the Hours with Experts program (lassonde.utah.edu/experthours) to connect with resources available.
General Contact Information
Utah Entrepreneur Challenge
c/o Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute
University of Utah
105 Fort Douglas Blvd., Bldg. #604
Salt Lake City, UT 84113
Staff Program Director
Anne Bastien, firstname.lastname@example.org